Effect of intermittent vs. daily calorie restriction on changes in weight and patient-reported outcomes in people with multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis and related disorders. 2018;23:33-39

Plain language summary

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system. Dietary modification is emerging as a safe intervention to potentially modify disease course. The main aim of this study was to assess the safety and feasibility of an intermittent fasting diet in people with MS. Secondary outcomes explored the effects of calorie restriction (CR) diets on body weight and anthropometric characteristics as well as on patient-reported outcomes including fatigue, sleep and mood. The study is a pilot randomised controlled feeding study of three different types of diets. Each participant (n=36) was randomized to 1 of 3 diets: a control diet (placebo), a daily CR diet and intermittent CR diet. Results indicate that daily CR diet was associated with marginally greater weight loss than the intermittent CR diet. Both CR diets were associated with trends toward improvements in cardiometabolic outcomes. Furthermore, CR diets were associated with in improvements in emotional well-being. Authors conclude that CR and weight loss represent interventions for clinically relevant symptoms due to MS, such as emotional well-being, without adding meaningful risks or adverse outcomes.


An intermittent fasting or calorie restriction diet has favorable effects in the mouse forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) and may provide additional anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective advantages beyond benefits obtained from weight loss alone. We conducted a pilot randomized controlled feeding study in 36 people with MS to assess safety and feasibility of different types of calorie restriction (CR) diets and assess their effects on weight and patient reported outcomes in people with MS. Patients were randomized to receive 1 of 3 diets for 8 weeks: daily CR diet (22% daily reduction in energy needs), intermittent CR diet (75% reduction in energy needs, 2 days/week; 0% reduction, 5 days/week), or a weight-stable diet (0% reduction in energy needs, 7 days/week). Of the 36 patients enrolled, 31 (86%) completed the trial; no significant adverse events occurred. Participants randomized to CR diets lost a median 3.4 kg (interquartile range [IQR]: -2.4, -4.0). Changes in weight did not differ significantly by type of CR diet, although participants randomized to daily CR tended to have greater weight loss (daily CR: -3.6 kg [IQR: -3.0, -4.1] vs. intermittent CR: -3.0 kg [IQR: -1.95, -4.1]; P = 0.15). Adherence to study diets differed significantly between intermittent CR vs. daily CR, with lesser adherence observed for intermittent CR (P = 0.002). Randomization to either CR diet was associated with significant improvements in emotional well-being/depression scores relative to control, with an average 8-week increase of 1.69 points (95% CI: 0.72, 2.66). CR diets are a safe/feasible way to achieve weight loss in people with MS and may be associated with improved emotional health.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Neurological ; Immune and inflammation
Patient Centred Factors : Triggers/Intermittent fasting
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Nutrients
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition
Functional Laboratory Testing : Blood ; Imaging

Methodological quality

Jadad score : 3
Allocation concealment : Yes